An auto rickshaw driver from Chennai, M Samson has studied only till Standard-VII, but understands the medium of internet and online banner advertisements better than many local businessmen available in the society.
Samson runs an advertising website named as NetwayAdvertise.com. Talking to Satrajit Sen of AlooTechie, Samson said, “I started this website mainly for local businessmen who can’t advertise in print or TV due to their high ad rates.” Samson charges Rs.500 a year for hosting a display ad. Currently, there are about 15 banner ads running on the site and with that rate, he earns around Rs.7,500 a year from his online advertising business. The expenditures for the portal include a fee of Rs.2,000 per year for site maintenance and upgrading the domain registration, and a payment of Rs 60 to the webmaster for creating and uploading each banner ad.
It was not an easy journey for a local auto rickshaw driver to learn about the internet medium and the ways of earning money through that, but the ability to learn new things and earn more money helped Samson to reach where he is today. According to Samson, he was first introduced to the world of internet in 1997 by a traveller from Japan who taught Samson how to access and use Hotmail so that he could communicate with his foreign clients, whenever they would want to visit the city. Gradually, Samson became familiar with emails, and also came to know that news and information can be gathered from internet. In 2006, a British Airways co-pilot, who was Samson’s client then, saw him accessing hotmail and gave him the idea to advertise his services on internet. “Initially, I couldn’t understand how one can advertise on internet. So, my client from British Airways explained to me the concept of a website and how it could be used to communicate across the world. I asked him to help me in setting up the site and he was the person who went back to London and designed the website TukTastic.com for me,” Samson said. [TukTastic is a play with two words Tuk-Tuk, which means an auto rickshaw, and fantastic.
Once the site was launched, Samson started getting a lot of queries on email and SMS from travellers. “Though, I can’t recount the numbers, most of the queries came from the foreigners. But gradually Indians were also catching up to the number of queries. Presently, I get between three to five queries every day,” said Samson. Later on, Samson told some of his businessmen friends about TukTastic and explained the global nature of internet, some of them became interested and wanted to advertise their business as well on internet. But they didn’t know where to go. “I saw this as an opportunity to earn money and thus launched the online advertising site NetwayAdvertise.com to help my friends,” said he.
Now with Internet becoming one of the fastest growing medium to connect with people across the world, many people may try to follow the path of M Samson and try to do something different in life.